My name is Guiseppe, because my parents are Italian, but everyone calls me Joe. I have an active life, and the highlight for me was reading for the Pope in Hyde Park. Religion means a lot to me because I am Catholic. It has got me through some tough times. I go to church at least once every weekend and I say the rosary. And usually, I am an altar boy and I sit with the priest at the altar.
I also belong to the Knights of St Columba. They are a group of Catholic men who meet twice a month. I am social secretary and I organise events.
I go on pilgrimage to Lourdes, in south west France, every year. Three months ago, a priest who I go with approached me and asked me if I would like to read for the Pope when he came to London. I said "I would love to."
It was an honour for me to be chosen. I sat 50 yards away from the Pope but I didn't get the chance to meet him, unfortunately.
I read the Litany of the Word. This is a prayer which the congregation responds to. I practised all day on the Friday, which was murder. I rehearsed again on the Saturday, and the actual vigil started at about half past six in the evening.
I read in front of 85,000 people, which was a daunting task but I did it. I wasn't nervous because I am used to reading at church. And I have given talks about getting a job at schools for people with a learning disability.
My sister, who is my carer, and my friends were there, so I felt relaxed. I was just about to start reading when one of my friends in the audience shouted "Come on, Joe!"
I was on BBC News 24 and Sky News. Also, I met Carol Vorderman. I've met her before and she recognised me straight away. She gave me a kiss on both cheeks. Afterwards, I was so tired, the next day I didn't even go to church.
An active life
As well as going to church, I am also editor of 'Our Say' magazine. It's run by and for people with a learning disability, and it comes out six times a year. I am a volunteer, so I don't get paid.
I do get paid for my job at the Colchester Institute. I work in the post room. My job involves delivering mail, collecting outgoing mail, franking the mail and delivering photocopying to the right place. It's a job I enjoy very much and the staff are great.
Mencap Pathway helped me get the job. I was unemployed from when I left school in 1979 to 1996, which is a heck of a long time. I went to job clubs and did employment training but this never got me a job.
Then Mencap helped me. They phoned the institute and asked if they needed anyone, and they said they needed help in the post room. So, I took the job and I have been there now 13 very happy years and I wouldn't change it for the world. If I was still unemployed I'd be down in the dumps. I have lots of friends there, including two Italian people who I speak Italian with.
I feel very happy and I want to continue doing what I'm doing.
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